You might remember way, way back in the day when we looked at free BlackBerry software. Recently, someone in the comments suggested that we do a follow-up. That’s all the prompting it took. In the meantime, I’ve upgraded from the 8703 to the 8830. And, of course, the application library has multiplied, as it will continue to do.
But before we dig into the new list, let’s go over the still-free apps on the old list, bullet point style.
- Google Maps. Still one of the top map apps. When asked about new features, the Google reps at WES said “I can’t comment about that” enough to make it sound promising.
- Beyond 411. Why pay for directory assistance? This ties in with GPS, too.
- BBScreenStream. Capture demo videos from your BlackBerry. Make sure to read our review of BBScreenStream.
- BBScreenShooter. Image capture software. We reviewed BBScreenShooter, too.
- Stock Viewer. Does what it says. Track your investments for free.
- JabpLite BlackBerry Personal Money Manager. You have to love the intuitive software titles.
- MobiPocket Reader. I’m a book nerd, so I love this app. Still awesome, still free.
- Viigo RSS Reader. The very best. It came in super handy at WES.
In with the new
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at a new crop of BlackBerry apps. Only two criteria apply here: It’s gotta be good, and it’s gotta be free. As you’ll notice, if you let us know about your own free BlackBerry applications in the comments, we just might mention them in a future edition.
We talked a lot about Go when it was hitting 2.0. You can read Cooper’s Geek Review, or my overview-ish take on the portal. It provides a ton of tools you can use to make your BlackBerry experience even better. And now that they’re introducing oneSearch with voice, it’s only going to get better.
Handmark Pocket Express
So this is a bit like Yahoo! Go. It’s an all-in-one portal, giving you free access to the basic list of information: News, sports, weather, business, and more. Plus, it has a number of premium services, like a virtual assistant, which you can add on for a fee. They also have a games portal, also a premium feature. But the basic portal, which again is free, is top-notch.
I feel a bit nerdy adding this here, but these are two absolutely brilliant applications. The first is gGlash, a trivia flashcard program. You can download pre-made trivia questions, or create your own for personalized studying. The other is gCalc, which converts your BlackBerry into a university level graphing calculator. So, in essence, that would save you something like $80. Of course, fewer keys means it’ll be a bit tougher to navigate. But for $80, you can surely figure it out.
Auto Lock and Soft Reset
Both of these apps are marketed right at me. I always forget to lock my BB. And, of course, that leads to phantom calls. Not cool. Auto Lock does what the name implies. It locks your BB once your backlight fades out. If you’re not down with that, there’s a delay feature as well, which lets you put it on a timer.
Soft Reset is a perfect solution for those who don’t like taking their battery out. For instance, I have the OtterBox case, and it’s a pain to take off all those layers. Soft Reset will perform the same functions without having to take apart the case.
We’ll go over this in a bit more depth soon enough. This is another portal of sorts, using voice to navigate through various options. You can say a business name and get info on it, or get the latest on traffic, weather, and more. It uses GPS to give you targeted results. And if your BB doesn’t have GPS, you can say your location and it will give you similar results.
There are a ton of document editors out there. Some are free, some cost. The downside to the free ones is that they aren’t too hot. GridMagic CE, though, delivers the goods for spreadsheets. It offers most of Excel’s functions, for an infinitely lower price. And yes, it’s compatible with Excel, too.
We covered a similar service in our last BlackBerry apps installment, Skip Go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be operational any more. No worries, though. WorldMate Live is a stupendous travel assistant for your BlackBerry. The basic, free version includes information on your flight, hotel, meeting, and transportation itinerary. This info can be handled by WorldMate just by forwarding confirmation emails. It can cull the data itself. The Gold version, which costs $99.99 per year, gives you real-time travel alerts, including alternatives to canceled and delayed flights.
I have to admit, I like FlipSide a bit better. But xPlayer is free. It’s got all the basic functions, and the interface is a little more intuitive than the current BlackBerry media program. That will all change with OS 4.5, I’m sure.
Make sure to leave your favorite free BlackBerry applications in the comments, so we have plenty to work with in the third edition.